Why It’s Time To Reclaim Performance Marketing From The Bin

Why It’s Time To Reclaim Performance Marketing From The Bin
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Performance marketing has been dragged through the gutter in recent years with questions over ‘black boxes’ for media spend and attention pivoting to brand marketing. But Impressive CEO Robert Tadros (main photo) argues it’s time for the industry to update its understanding of the role, and importance, of performance marketing…

Right here and right now we need to have a conversation about the future of our industry, and it centres around the role of marketing in your business. 

For some marketers, this might be an existential moment. I’m not being hyperbolic – I wish I was.

Right now we’re in the middle of a major economic shift. The cost of living is rising rapidly due to events happening thousands of miles away, and it’s hitting the disposable income of many Aussies. The same disposable income being targeted by so many businesses. 

Therefore marketing is going to be even more important than it already is to your business.  And while the brand piece is going to be front and centre, there needs to be a renewed focus on performance marketing. 

The problem is, the reputation of performance marketing is probably at an all time low across the industry. 

Why? Well, it’s been the victim of some bad practices by a handful of bad actors. It’s been lost in the mix of the high-level conversation which generally focuses on brand, purpose and whether influencers are a good or bad thing.  

So, let’s go back to basics. My definition of performance marketing is driving immediate, tangible, business results. Getting people to take an action, whether that’s clicking through and buying those jeans, or going to a bank and getting that loan. In other words – doing something which drives to the bottom line of your business.

This may not seem so radical – but the real shift is actually in the channels being used to deliver performance marketing outcomes today. In a world where every medium is digital in some way or other, there’s more scope than ever to achieve results. And guess what, you can (and should) be creative with it.

Industry discussions around performance marketing have always centred around its presence at the “pointy” end of the funnel. And true, much of the importance of performance marketing is in its ability to drive conversion in customers. Channels such as SEM (search engine marketing) and retargeting are often essential to performance marketing agencies.

But this is only half the story. The idea that performance marketing is ultimately just SEM limits its true potential and puts to shame the actual work that goes on behind performance marketing campaigns. After all, true performance marketing isn’t SEM or retargeting – it’s defining clear goals and implementing a concrete plan of action to achieve them.

That doesn’t sound so scary – and I’m sure it’s something that most professionals in this industry do every day. Actually, it’s essential that we do.

But the rise in popularity of brand marketing seems to have demanded the denigration of performance. With brand focused on the wider end of the funnel – awareness and consideration – and performance focused on conversion, the conflict seemed to write itself.

Put simply, there’s a symbiotic relationship between brand and performance. Neglecting one at the expense of the other is unrealistic for the way today’s consumers shop. 

Brand is undoubtedly really important and should be nurtured. But in the more challenged economic environment we’re entering into there needs to be a renewed focus on performance and how to genuinely achieve it. It’s all very well creating brand salience, but if you’re not there in the moments before purchase, it’s all for nothing.

Everything in a performance marketing campaign, whether it’s SEM or digital-out-of-home (DOOH) is driven towards creating tangible outcomes that work with a business’ overarching goals. We’re not in the caper of working against our clients – and I’m confident in saying that no-one is.

After all, what would be the point of generating a lot of buzz if your brand’s reputation is sullied? And similarly, what good is a high click through rate if no one is purchasing your product? 

That’s why performance marketing has to be given its due, and must be taken far more seriously by the industry at large. This isn’t a box to tick, but a strategy you should be actively working towards. 

A fact that’s often overlooked is that brand campaigns take about two or three years to see fruition. The average tenure of a CMO is 18 months. Marketers are essentially investing in their next CMO from the moment a brand campaign is launched.

If that’s a fact in a buoyant market, then when things get tough marketers really need to think about maintaining and moving the bottom line today. Because you can bet your competitors are.

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Impressive Robert Tadros

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